Category Archives: Culture
There are two types of leaders.
Those who are critics, and those who are cheerleaders.
Critics are those types of leaders who feel their knowledge and experience give them a superiority over everyone else.
These are leaders who look down on others, and don’t believe anyone can tell them anything that they don’t already know.
One of the fatal flaws a critical leader commits is discounting someone’s input because they feel their experience is inferior and not qualified to matter. They discount the hourly employee’s input who is new to the job, the young manager who only has an associate’s degree, or someone’s view on workflow because they don’t work on the factory floor but in the office. They fail to realize that people many times have valid viewpoints based on their observations and collective experience.
These leaders don’t build others up or develop people. Instead, they put them down and find people with the similar critical spirit to enter into their circles, creating more of the same spirit throughout the organization. This enables toxic and untrustworthy behavior and is always short-sighted. They also usually make very poor personnel decisions due to their elevated sense of self and contempt for those they deem lesser than themselves.
The other end of the spectrum are those leaders that are cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are not necessarily a “ra-ra” motivational personality. Instead they are the steady leadership style that elevates everyone around them to grow and develop.
Cheerleading leaders give higher value to their people, their insight, and their development. They give each person and equal value and voice and cast a vision within them to inspire them to give feedback for the greater mission.
These types of leaders have no problem stepping aside and giving others credit, leadership in projects, and a platform for input. They are more tolerable and forgiving for mistakes, and while demanding a high degree of performance, know that their people need time to develop and learn.
They esteem others more than themselves, knowing that the best organizations are more than the leader but the sum of all it’s constituents. They usually make the best personnel decisions which lead to more sustainable growth and achievement of the company’s goals. Cheerleaders are the ones who better develop future leaders.
Work to be a cheerleader who looks up to your people, not a critic who look down at others. Only one mindset can make a positive, lasting impact.
(image: wikimedia commons)
The dreaded “elephant in the room”. Those conversations that should happen, but most of the time do not. Or as explained by definition:
“A major problem or controversial issue that is obviously present but avoided as a subject for discussion because it is more comfortable to do so”
There are many reason why these conversations to address the “elephant” never happen:
- Fear – that bringing it up could cost you credibility or your job
- Comfort – that it’s easier to not make waves and just work around the problem
- Underestimation – not realizing that the situation has bigger ramifications than one realizes
- Apathy – not caring enough to address (“It’s not my problem.”)
By not having the tough conversation about the situation, the following fallout usually happens:
- Fear culture persists
- People gain undue and unchecked power and influence (colleagues, managers, shareholders, etc)
- Decline in productivity, efficiencies, and other metrics leading to declining performance overall
- Disengagement due to low morale and discontentment
In never addressing the “elephant in the room” a general uneasiness and untrustworthy environment settles in that can wreak havoc throughout the organization.
It’s imperative that any conversation that needs to be had to address those “elephants” needs to occur. In order to break the silence and overcome the anxiety to have straight talk, you should use these following guidelines to get the discussion out in the open:
- Resolve not to be remiss. Omitting an issue causes more harm than good always. Purpose to start the discussion by knowing that you owe it to others to bring this topic to the forefront.
- Foster professionalism. How you approach the conversation can ease the tension. Anger, outrage, and other non-professional conduct can greatly hamper the effectiveness of the discussion. Be calm and set everyone else at ease.
- Make it constructive. Make it clear that you want to have a working dialogue of the issue at hand. Set the expectations early to get the most out of the talk and allow everyone opportunity for input.
- Be objective. This can be tricky, especially when items such as harassment or bullying come into play. But having as much facts to back up what is being discusses can solidify the validity of the issue and not leave room for people to shrug it off.
- Find other audiences. Sometimes the people that need to hear the message are the least receptive. By finding others who share the same opinion about the issue will make it not about you but about the issue and how much it impacts others.
- Create a dialogue. Get as many others talking about it as possible in the discussions. It is important to also note that these talks may not be just once and over with. Constructive issue resolving may take multiple discussions to reach understanding and solutions. Keep it open at all times.
- Get actionable steps. Have those involved including yourself take responsibility for a portion of the solution. Some people may have to take full ownership for their actions as no one else can. Others may need to help with processes, checks and balances. Everyone at least needs to work on fostering a culture of open talk without fear or apathy. Make sure those steps are being taken seriously and followed through.
Elephants in the room are not pleasant beasts. They need to be herded out and having everyone skirt around the issue only makes matters worse. Your culture may not be conducive to talking open, but it only takes one person and some of the suggestions above to start changing that in your organization.
There are two ways to have your organization be molded.
The first way it to enact policies and practices as you go. This method addresses performance issues when they arise, meets compliance and regulatory standards, and manages the overall behaviors of the company.
It also has a direct impact on culture. and typically a negative one.
When policies are the driving mechanism in managing and leading, they take priority in the strategic goals of the company, leaving culture to be wrapped around it and fit in where it can.
For instance, if a policy is implemented in reaction to a new regulation of due to circumstances like increased injuries, then the culture may have to adapt in response. A company that claims customer service as a key value can hardly execute that culture when it devises a tenuous procedure on verifying returns or damage claims that protect the company first and leave consumers with a poor experience on how these claims are handled.
That’s where culture needs to be the driving force in everything an organization does. This is the second and best way to have your organization molded.
When culture has its rightful and preeminent place in your organization, it will permeate everything it touches. Culture well defined will seep its way into meetings, decision making, processes, and yes even policies. When culture is allowed to have its way, it will transform the way a company operates.
Those policies that are necessary due to regulatory compliance become less of an encumbrance to staff. Instead, culture will look at the compliance issue and say “How can we enact this in a way that still gives dignity to our people and excellent service to our customers?”
Culture will always keep your core values intact, engagement high, and your systems in congruence with your people. It will allow the human touch in business, not like the robotic and cold, technical and policy-driven approach does.
When culture is at the center, it’s effects will ripple out and make lasting waves through your organization. It flows more freely because it doesn’t force actions but enables them to be more organic.